There are many who question how dangerous Leahcim’s Gauntlet truly is. Boasting champions that have managed the trek are often reminded of far less capable individuals that did the same, and of course the detractors are answered with examples of great heroes that lost their lives in the fabled challenge of the Underworld—if it even truly is one, as they say. More often than not, the inexperienced fare best within and often begin careers with claims of successfully traversing the mythical dungeon.
The trickster god of Aventyr is attributed to the design of this deathtrap and the experience a group of adventurers have while within it can be vastly different each time. Below is just one configuration, though the order of the obstacles within Leahcim’s Gauntlet can change seemingly without reason. Sometimes the Halls of Deception are halfway through the dungeon or at its exit, the Repulsor Chasms have been said to be a few miles in or many, and every tale of the caverns is different from the last.
GM Note Due to the Planar Rift and divine influence of the Clever Shadow, the difficulty of the tricks, creatures, and so on scale with APL. All of the DCs within Leahcim’s Gauntlet are calculated by the average level of an adventuring group entering it (round down). Treat all of these obstacles as having a CR equal to APL + the multiplier of the highest check or difficulty class involved.
Higher level PCs will be extremely hard pressed to succeed, and GMs games are encouraged to modify these checks as they see fit (particularly in these cases).
A bit of shadow falls too far against one wall and with closer inspection, you realize there’s a facade in the very stone! Behind it is a tunnel hewn from the rock, curving out of sight perhaps a hundred feet ahead.
The entrance to Leahcim’s Gauntlet appears to be hidden, giving explorers the idea that they are in fact quite canny and spotted it of their own accord. Creatures that make a Perception check (5 + APL) see the hidden cave wall that opens to a passage that leads down into the dungeon. A Will save DC 10 + (APL x 2.5) realizes that something influenced the eyes of those that detect the entrance.
- Hall of Deception
The hewn rock walls give way to ancient blocks of stone, and in the distance you can see the glitter of something hanging from one of countless hooks in this gargantuan hallway.
This mile-long (5, 280 ft.) passageway seems utterly benign, but can often be the root of what ends an adventuring group. Every 1,000 feet one random creature makes a Will save DC (APL x 2.5) or is compelled to subtly leave an item hanging along a crook in the rock wall (making a Sleight of Hand check opposed by their allies). Anyone that points out the odd behavior makes a Will save DC (APL x 3) 1d4 hours later or feels as though they left something important about 1,000 feet from the exit (though they can’t be sure of what), hanging along the walls in the Hall of Deception.
1d6 hours after leaving the Hall of Deception, the entrance to it disappears and cannot be found without a Perception check DC 18 + (APL x 3).
- Secret Tunnel
Something about the stone here seems wrong and sure enough, when you run your hand along the rock you feel a seam in it! With a little bit of effort it pries open and a section of blocks swings toward you, revealing a secret passage.
As one would expect, this dungeon devoted to the trickster god has a secret passageway (roughly 10-ft. square), just as safe to travel through as one might expect. Finding it requires a Perception check DC 13 + (APL x 3) Every ½ mile a section of the passage gives out and a vacuum attempts to suck creatures down into the Illusory Caverns . A Reflex save DC (APL x 2.5) allows a creature to remain within the secret tunnel.
- Magnetic Cliffs
Not far from where you stand, the ground comes to an abrupt halt before a yawning black abyss. However, a mass of wealth sits along the edge and hundreds if not thousands of gold coins are clearly unattended.
Creatures that fail a Will save DC 8 + (APL x 2) see masses of gold coins surrounding this rift in the earth, mounded about 10 feet from the edge. As soon as a creature is within 20 feet of the Magnetic Cliff’s edge they begin to feel its pull, dragged 10 feet toward the pit should they fail a Strength check DC 10 + (APL x 2). Creatures take a -1 penalty for every 10 pounds of metal they carry. Any creature dragged down the Magnetic Cliffs takes APL x d4 force damage and is deposited on the southernmost tip of Leahcim’s Gauntlet, devoid of one randomly determined metallic item (note; this is never armor).
- Repulsor Chasm
A chasm stretching across this cavern is narrowest at this small gulf—it is certainly the simplest area to cross it at.
It appears as though crossing this 20-foot long crevice will only take a simple jump, but like everything else in Leahcim’s Gauntlet, this is a ruse. Any creature that makes a jump check or uses a fly speed to cross the Repulsor Chasm is thrown up toward the cavern’s ceiling (30 feet above), taking APL x 1d4 piercing damage against the stalactites above should they fail a Reflex save DC 10 + (APL x 2). Creatures wearing metal armor are at greater risk; if wearing medium armor they instead take APL x 1d6 piercing damage and if wearing heavy armor, APL x 1d8 piercing damage.
The far side of the Repulsor Chasm has a long plane that descends 90 feet into the Illusory Caverns , though cliffs run alongside the walls.
- Illusory Caverns
This chamber’s vaulted ceiling rises high above you, and is far wider, stretching away in all directions. Stalagmites and perched piles of rocks are all that litter this disparate, dark landscape and you wonder what else lurks in the shadows.
Most of Leahcim’s Gauntlet consists of this large 100-ft.-high chamber. Every ½ mile an illusion of a monster or adversary (of a CR equal to APL + 3; as major image, CL equal to APL x2) wanders within the range of perception for any creature that fails a Will save DC 5 + (APL x 1.5).
However, every 1 and ½ miles adventurers encounter one random creature of a CR equal to APL - 2 + 1d4. These enemies appear in exactly the same way as their illusory counterparts and are indistinguishable until interacted with (though depending on what monster or NPC is encountered, combat may not always be the only resolution).
- Planar Rift
A hollow into the floor of this devious cavern radiates an aura of mystical light that plays out in a kaleidoscopic array, bringing vibrancy to the otherwise dreary environment. Beyond the sheen of energy you can see the skyline of a different place, waters washing onto rocky crags in a place you cannot recognize.
For explorers that fail to find the real exit , this portal to other dimensions seems as if it is the only means to leave the dungeon—and indeed, many take this route. Every hour a random creature (CR equal to APL + 1d4) wanders out of the Planar Rift and into Leahcim’s Gauntlet.
Adventurers that enter the Planar Rift are transported to a safe location on a random plane of existence (determined by the GM; no save).
You seem to have reached a dead end in this strange complex, and you can’t help but wonder if it was a mistake coming here.
The true exit from Leahcim’s Gauntlet is cunningly hidden from view, a cleft in the rock that requires a Perception check DC 15 + (APL x 2), though a Will save DC 8 + (APL x 2) makes creatures feel as if they overlooked something in this area. Searching for the exit takes about an hour, and each hour there is a 50% chance that 1 eye eater wanders nearby (+2 for every four points of APL) [tomorrow’s Statblock Sunday! —MM].